HOW TO INCREASE SALES WITH IMPROVED WEBSITE USABILITY
That effortless flow from discovery to puchase.
No matter what you sell: a product, a service, a lifestyle, or a concept. There is one thing that you can execute to make everything else go into place, like a perfect domino run until the sale is accomplished: I’m talking about planning your customer journey to be both flowing and flawless.
Business is a competitive world, and developing a profitable product or service is an essential first step. However, from the start to building consistent revenue, it is an actual journey: not just your journey, though, your Customers’ too.
You might have already heard of Website Usability, aka User Experience and User Interface, and their crucial role in the way a product, or a service, is perceived by a customer. Although it is not the only factor (there is never just one factor in Marketing and who tells you that is lying to you), applying UX and UI elements to your Website is an essential and unmissable step.
Why? Because within your Website Usability dwells a crucial part of your sales process.
How Website Usability influences the Customer Journey?
UX/UI are both aspects of the Customer Journey, and although they have different angles, they complement each other in the purpose of creating the most pleasant, easy, clear, memorable interaction between your Company offer and your Customers.
In a general sense, a successful UX/UI is the result of an appropriate study, designed to optimise and simplify the interaction between human psychology, and the elements of a system – such as your Website. This is done by deeply understanding the theory and principles behind cognitive behaviour. In other words, making a product or a service immediately accessible, easily usable and quickly understandable with the least amount of effort of the user – or, in our specific context, the potential customer.
I will do an example outside the digital word: let’s say you decide to walk into a store. Whether you know already what you want to buy or you are just browsing about, the User Experience is the overall feeling you will have after your interaction with this store you’ve entered to. How well the items are displayed in the different departments and how easy it is to navigate your way between them, to find what you’re looking for, to how accessible and effortless it is to finalise the purchase through the till, are contributing factors to this Experience. In one word: User Experience is usability.
Now, let’s say this store you’ve just walked into is so messy you can’t even understand what they are actually selling and nobody is around to help you. Most likely you will leave quickly, am I right? The shorter is your stay, the least likely you will become a customer of that store: do you get where I am going with this?
User Interface has the same objective as UX, but from another perspective: the visual components that make it easier to understand how usability works. Meaning, creating the visual aid that guides the User through the Experience that has been designed to be as positive as possible.
Going back to our Store examples: the colour palette, the typography hierarchy and other graphic elements that are aesthetically pleasing whilst gently guiding the User’s eye along the designed pathway.
Imagine if you are driving through a huge car park. There were no arrows or no different colours between the exit and entrance guidelines: you would probably think it is designed poorly and would probably not enjoy the extra effort in orienting yourself in out.
Different colours might be used in a Book Store to indicate separate sections of different genres- making it rather quick and intuitive to find where things are.
Although these are all good examples of how the entire process influences the final perception of the User, I also must specify that whether the UX has broader applications (from how easy is to grip that vegetable peeler to how easy is to use an automatic till at that store) the term UI only applies to digital screen you can interact with: such as mobile apps, websites and digital devices in general.
Now, as for the title, the aim of this article is to explain how to facilitate your sales through your website. Therefore, after this broad introduction, I’ll go right into the heart of the matter:
The first step to optimise our prospect experience is creating a map of prospect potential interaction with our Website content.
To do so, these are some of the questions you should be able to answer:
Impressive Website Usability starts from understanding your prospects’ needs.
The first step to improve our Website Usability, and therefore our customers’ experience, is mapping out the main touchpoints of potential interaction between them and your Website. To do so, these are some questions you should be able to answer:
- Who is my typical customer?
- What might be his/her motivation to visit my website?
- What are the main touchpoints he/she will most likely look for?
- What is the main information I wish for him/her to retain after the interaction with my company?
- What actions do I wish for him/her to take?
- How can I make his/her navigation so effortless to blow his/her mind away?
Finding the answer to all these questions is all about anticipating your prospect’s needs – like when a waiter tops up your almost empty glass before you even think of reaching the bottle on the other side of the table. it makes you feel regarded and well looked after, right? In the same way, when your Website Usability is that satisfying, the User will be drawn to take the closest action towards the sale: such as asking for a quote, calling you or shopping right away.
However, to improve your Website Usability, you also need to also consider these three scenarios:
- Your prospect is not ready to take action just yet.
- He/she is already a customer, now browsing for specific information.
- A new prospect is seeing your website for the first time.
Either way, you need to guide the Users through whatever information they might look for with the least number of clicks possible.
Simple implementations in your website that will immediately improve your sales process.
Because every Industry is different, is impossible to describe a formula that works for any website. If you are after an in-depth evaluation of your Website Usability, you can at anytime request a free consultation with us. However, for the purpose of this article, I am going to outline some of the elements considered essential for an optimised Usability.
- CONSISTENCY IS CLARITY. Make sure that your Website layout is predictable and consistent across the different pages. For instance, If a button means something on one page, it should mean the same thing on another. Do not confuse the Users by misplacing graphic elements. It is not a treasure hunt. Can you imagine the same road signs were made of different colours and shapes?
- USE PATTERN INTERRUPTION TO DRAW ATTENTION. Our eye tends to scroll through a repeated pattern but stops where it sees an interruption of the pattern. You can use this property to highlight the most important information. For instance, if the majority of the graphic elements and other buttons are blue, make sure that your call-to-action button (like, “call now” or “shop now’’) is the only one of a different colour.
- DO NOT CROWD, ORGANISE INSTEAD. Like we use drawers and cupboards to prevent the random leaving of our things all over the places, it is overwhelming seeing a Website that shows a whole bunch of cluttered information. To properly process information, our brain needs to see them organised in tidy groups and adequately spaced out. It is better to leave the User in control of what to see and whatnot. You can do it, simply by using a dropdown menu or accordions to let users expand and collapse sections of the content – based on their needs. In this way, the User can navigate material quickly without having to actively retrieve them. Plus, using Navigation Menus will allow you to organise a large quantity of information in a limited space.
- DESIGN YOUR LAYOUT TO BE CONVERSATIONAL. Imagine your website as an ideal dialogue with a potential customer. Try to think of all the main touchpoints you would discuss and lay them out in an order that makes sense. First of all, on your landing page, introduce yourself. The first thing the User should see is a short and polite introduction, followed by the offer of helping them with their problem. For instance: “Hello. We are The Sweet Spot Bedding Warehouse and our mission is to help you wake up rested and ready for a new, exciting day. Explore our wide range of top-quality mattresses and find your match for perfect night sleep”. The option of taking immediate action (such as the “shop now” button) should always be available. However, if the prospect is not yet won, he/she should be able to scroll down the page and feel like all his/her questions popping on his/her mind, are being answered. The conversation should not be about you, though. It should be about what your typical customer is interested in and what problem he/she is looking to solve.
- SHOW BEFORE TELLING. Icons, infographics, charts, shapes, images and colours are the best vector to convey a quick understanding of the topic. Symbols have a stronger and faster effect on our learning process. So it is important that the ratio between text and visual is balanced. Remember: Websites are often just scanned and rarely are fully read. So you want to maximise the impact of the User first impression.
- PRIORITISE. Make sure that the blueprint of your information’s architecture is clear at the first glance. The main information should be retrieved first: such as what services or products are you selling, your portfolio, your unique selling point, the way to get in touch with you. Above all, make sure your call to action button is always visible and accessible across each page.
- DESIGN FOR THE LEAST NUMBER OF CLICKS POSSIBLE. Give the User the chance to navigate across different pages fluently, without having to click ten times to go back to where it started.
- USE EMPATHY. The website is not for you, but for your customers. To help them find out what they want to know in the easiest and fastest way possible. Let’s say you are selling skin-care products. Many User does not know right away what to look for specifically. So it could be helpful to group the products under categories. Each category could suggest the final result or feeling the User will achieve – if buying the product. For instance, “Forever Young” for anti-aging collection, “Flawless Skin” for the anti-imperfection and “My Self-Care Routine” for bundles. You are in business to solve your customers’ problems and part of the job is making their choice easier.
- LET THEM KNOW WHERE THEY ARE AT ALL TIME. Include the navigation bar in the header of your site, with only the essential options: such as Home, Services, About, Call to Action.
- USE ALGORITHMS THAT LEARN USERS PREFERENCES. This might not be accessible to everyone, but using an algorithm to provide the Users with tailored suggestions can create a very positive experience.
- USE SCROLL-TRIGGERED MOTION. Scroll-triggered web effects have grown in popularity by bringing Website Usability to a new level of online interacting. These User Interface effects are typically seen in parallax effects or in animations, which are triggered by the User scrolling. In terms of Website Usability, scroll-triggered effects offer a tridimensional experience that can make navigation simple and fun. Like all things, needs to be used with caution.
- MAKE IT RESPONSIVE TO MOBILE DEVICES. 85% of the Users will look at your Website from their phone. It is pretty obvious that if your website is not responsive to the mobile device shape, you’re most likely out of the game right away.
- A FAIR ACCESSIBILITY. Although you have designed your Website around a specific Customer Persona, remember that it still needs to be clear to anyone, including people with disabilities or limitations that affect their browsing experience. To do so, allow adequate spaces between graphic elements and text and, most of all, respect conventionality. Respecting conventionality means to place things where they are expected to be:
- Placing the main navigation items at the top (or left side) of a page, placing a logo at the top left (or centre) of a page and make it clickable, so it always brings a visitor back to the homepage,
- Have links and buttons that change colour/appearance when you hover over them.
- Use conventional icons and badges such as a shopping cart icon on an e-commerce site.
- Have information in a container or card that can be swept off, removed with an X or scrolled through like a carousel – as they are the most intuitive way to navigate options.
LAST BUT NOT LEAST: MAKE IT USABLE
Usability is crucial because Websites are not just there to look pretty. No matter what is your Industry, your Website needs to be designed around the User needs. Aesthetic has certainly its importance, but it must submit to the overall functionality. Remember that your prospects may find you through word of mouth, paid advertisement or social media marketing, but they will always look into your Website before deciding whether get in touch with you or not.
Once upon a time, Businesses were conducted mostly in person. Nowadays, it appears that things have changed but they are not: it is still old school networking and salesmanship that decide the level of success of a Company. Your Website is like your first handshake: you have a few minutes to make a great impression. Do not waste your chance to wow a potential customer. In fact, by showcasing exceptional Website Usability, you are also showcasing efficiency, organising skills and excellent executive prowess. An outstanding User Experience will make your Company look better than the competitors’.
A User Interface that is intuitive and clever will convince the User that doing Business with you will be rewarding and stress-free. If you pay for digital advertising without having a performative and Usability optimised Website, it is like if tried to fill-up a bucket with a hole in the button. On the contrary, if your Website is designed to sell – and also you have a system that provides you with consistent traffic (organic and paid) – then you have a sale process that is foolproof.